Sorry Britishers, it has nothing to do with cats. Here’s a picture of one anyway.

This week’s interesting word is (I believe) common in American English but almost unknown in British English.

It is a variation of cater-cornered. There are other variations including catacornered, caddy-cornered and kitty-cornered.

Cater-cornered means ‘diagonal’ or ‘diagonally’. It is used to describe something as situated diagonally opposite from something else.

Cater-corned is mid 19th century in origin. It is usually considered to have developed from a dialect use of cater meaning ‘diagonally’. This stemmed from cater meaning the four-spot on dice, which comes from the French quatre meaning ‘four’. Quatre is from the Latin quattuor, meaning ‘four’.


8 thoughts on “Catty-cornered

  1. I love that word. Pronunciation in my corner of the states is catty-cornered. I wonder if it’s related to cattywumpus?

    Also, both of these words make me think of Roald Dahl, and that’s always a good thing.


      • Looks like they’re kissing cousins at least. The first part is also sourced to cater-diagonal and the second part is “perhaps related to Scottish wampish ‘to wriggle, twist, or swerve about.’

        That fits with the usage we have here in Southeast USA. Cattywumpus is a state of being all messed up and out of place.

        Side note: It’s neat finding other people who are tickled by etymology.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, never heard that one in British English. It’s amazing how many differences there are between American and British. Fascinating too. 🙂


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